Glorious Gatherings

Glorious Gatherings

Published on Monday, July 20, 2015. This article appears in the August/September 2015 issue of American Craft Magazine.
Author Staff
Masters of Craft: 224 Artists in Fiber, Clay, Glass, Metal, and Wood

Masters of Craft: 224 Artists in Fiber, Clay, Glass, Metal, and Wood

Mark LaFavor

Masters of Craft: 224 Artists in Fiber, Clay, Glass, Metal, and Wood
Portraits by Paul J. Smith
Schiffer Publishing Ltd., $50

Gyöngy Laky. Wayne Higby. Toots Zynsky. Sam Maloof. These are names in the studio craft movement that everyone quickly learns. But have you seen those luminaries up close? In private moments? Cracking up? That’s the thrill of this 240-page collection of portraits: You get to see more than 200 acclaimed artists as unguarded human beings. 

Masters of Craft is a labor of love by Paul J. Smith, director emeritus of the Museum of Arts and Design, known during his tenure (1963 – 87) as the Museum of Contemporary Crafts. Smith started documenting the artists he knew in the mid-1980s and has kept the camera close at hand for 30 years. He was there to capture Peter Voulkos mugging for the camera in 1986 and Dale Chihuly sipping wine in a swimming pool while chatting with Stanislav Libensk in 1995. He caught Lenore Tawney, Sheila Hicks, and Helena Hernmarck schmoozing at a party at Tawney’s loft in 1996. He snapped young versions of Paul Marioni, Dante Marioni, Wendy Maruyama, and Wendell Castle. And on and on.

The book is divided into five sections, one for each of the traditional mediums. The images are followed by an easily scanned index listing locations and dates. If studio craft is your thing, this is an essential, delightful addition to your library. ~Monica Moses

The Real Thing: Essays on Making in the Modern World
By Tanya Harrod
Hyphen Press, $35

Even if the number of Americans familiar with the work of British design historian Tanya Harrod were overestimated, it would still be too few. Collecting dozens of her essays published since the mid-1980s in UK periodicals, The Real Thing is eclectic and engrossing – a survey of her analysis of exhibitions, publications, and people, wrought in clear prose and with acerbic wit. Together they present an expansive view on making, from potter Bernard Leach to video games. Confessing that she hopes to “communicate both a deep love and a deep distrust of the world we now inhabit,” Harrod is an unflinching examiner of craft, coolly observant while others too often reach for the Kool-Aid.  ~Perry A. Price

People of Print: Innovative, Independent Design and Illustration
By Marcroy Smith and Andy Cooke
Thames & Hudson, $65

But isn’t print dead? to people in graphic design, illustration, printmaking, and letterpress, that question must get old. The answer is an emphatic no – and exhibit A is People of Print. Author Marcroy Smith, an illustrator, founded the eponymous website in 2008; launched as a creative directory, it evolved into a respected platform, a collaborative hub, and a source of inspiration for its global community. That vibrant community is the basis for this book, which showcases 45 hands-on individuals and collectives, from Pittsburgh’s Tugboat Printshop to Seripop, Canadian collaborators whose work spans screenprinting, installation, and sculpture. Large pages of thick paper allow for luscious visual reproductions – the letterpress images nearly look textured – while charming essays, interviews, and an index of resources round out the lively offerings. ~Julie K. Hanus